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PEN World Voices Festival Announces Masha Gessen Followed by Samantha Bee

By: BWW News Desk

Source: Broadway World

PEN America has announced that leading Russian and American journalist and author Masha Gessen, will deliver the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture, followed by a conversation with comedian and political commentator Samantha Bee on the closing night of the PEN World Voices Festival. This year the thirteenth annual Festival, taking place in New York from May 1-7, will address some of the vital issues of the Trump era, with a special focus on the fractious relationship between gender and power. At a moment of historic threats to freedom and truth, Ms. Gessen and Ms. Bee, both activists in their own rights, will speak to Gessen’s experience with Russian censorship and suppression of dissent, and parallels between the current administration and other authoritarian regimes.

Named for playwright Arthur Miller, an ardent advocate for free expression and longtime leader of PEN, the annual lecture is a hallmark of the Festival. In past years, the Freedom to Write Lecture has been delivered by Umberto Eco, Orhan Pamuk, Salman RushdieWole Soyinka, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The event will take place at The Great Hall at Cooper Union on Sunday, May 7 at 5pm. Tickets for this and all Festival events are available at

Masha Gessen is the author of ten books of nonfiction, most recently The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia, coming from Riverhead in October. She is a contributing opinion writer to The New York Times and a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books, among other publications.

Samantha Bee has quickly established herself as having one of the most unique and sharp comedic voices on television. Bee departed The Daily Show in 2015 and currently holds the title for being the longest-serving regular Daily Show correspondent of all time. In 2016, Bee received global and critical recognition from the success of her very own award-winning weekly late night comedy series, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.

In addition to Gessen’s and Bee’s appearances, the PEN World Voices Festival has added many events to the schedule. Highlights include:

Comedy Writing in the Age of Trump, with members of Samantha Bee‘s writing team, includingMathan Erhardt, Ashley Black, and Patrick Cassels. (Greene Space; May 4)

Legacies: Militancy and Sisterhood: Pulitzer Prize-winning author Margo Jefferson, and writersHonor Moore and Alix Kates Shulman (co-editors of the forthcoming Library of America anthology Writing the Women’s Movement) and Anna Holmes (Jezebel founder) discuss the ongoing legacy of feminism. (Roulette; Thursday, May 4)

A conversation between 2016 Pulitzer Prize winner Viet Thanh Nguyen (The Sympathizer, The Refugees) and Lambda Award and O. Henry Prize-winner Chinelo Okparanta (Happiness, Like Water, Under the Udala Trees), moderated by New York Times’s senior editor, Parul Sehgal (Center for Fiction; Thursday, May 4)

Exposure: Politics, Sex and Power: Japanese sculptor/manga artist Rokudenashiko, Bangladeshi installation and performance artist Ali Asgar, and Iranian singer, songwriter and music scholar Mohsen Namjoo use their art to explore politics, gender and identity, facing persecution at home. Moderated by Alexandra Munroe. (Dixon Place; May 2)

Two events with acclaimed Cuban poet, Nancy Morejón, hailed by poet Sapphire as “the most internationally successful and widely translated Cuban woman poet of the post-revolutionary period”: Cuban Dreams, Cuban Histories, in which Morejón explores mythologies and Cubans’ lived experiences with Cuban American novelist Derek Palacio (American Museum of Natural History; May 4); and Nancy Morejón and Wild Noise, in which she reads against the backdrop of the Bronx Museum’s Wild Noise/Ruido Salvaje exhibition, a survey of Cuban artists both on the island and abroad grappling with issues of identity, gender, and community. (Bronx Museum; Saturday, May 6)

Power of the Arts: From Propaganda to Free Speech: 2016 Forward Prize winner Trinidadian-British poet Vahni Capiledo, renowned theatre director Dominic Dromgooleand others look how Shakespeare has been used throughout the centuries as a tool of propaganda or to channel dissent. In partnership with Index on Censorship, this program is part of Shakespeare Lives, a global program celebrating the continuing resonance of Shakespeare around the world led by the British Council and the GREAT Britain Campaign. (Roulette; May 2)